Ludmila Armata’s Misfits presents paintings of people who do not fit anywhere. Where are they anyway? What country, what culture, and what century do they come from? They are real presences that hang in space, emerge, or dissolve. Surrounded by darkness and light that becomes a vehicle for emotion. These situational studies are dark, brooding, contained, but the story is a universal one. Repression, confinement, and the general state of the human condition are the subject here. Ludmila Armata begins by imagining both darkness and light together, then builds a resonance into the painting. In Eros (2010), or Caspian (2010), Armata’s subjects hang in a state of suspension, as if in purgatory. The ambiguity is in the distancing, the absolute abstraction of the spaces they are rendered in. “Its all about light and dark. Playing with emergent or disappearing form becomes an aesthetic pretext of sorts,” states Armata.
Having recently travelled extensively to Africa, India and the Middle East, Armata comments : “In my latest travels, I sketched from observation. I became acutely aware of the universality of confinement, repression and restriction of humans, whatever the culture. In developed countries, this is nearly invisible but in existence. The subjects emerged out of my sketches naturally.”
What we do not see is what caused or led to the fatal containment of these suspended souls. This is also what makes these paintings so challenging. It should be noted, that Armata has not worked in oil on a large scale for over twenty years, not since a show at Rochon gallery in Toronto.
Morpheus (2010) has all the textural flesh and colour of Chaim Soutine’s Slaughtered Ox (1925). A central skeletal figure of a man hangs in space. His arms trail off like the dying tendrils of a plant. The rest of his body has vanished into thin air. Eviscerated, dematerialized, the fleshy material of light and dark that Armata’s Morpheus (the God of Dreams) manifests recalls details of Christ’s body in Altdorfer’s Crucifixion scene from 1526. Soledad (2010), a large horizontal piece, again offers the human figure, arms outstretched. The bodily presence of such paintings, with their emergent light, objectifies the human body. Whether a deposition or resurrection, the resonance is as ambiguous as the light and dark hence that transcendent, not at all realistic, ambiance. And so we have to accept that the physicality of these suspended bodies is about captivity, repression and containment of the human soul, a state that exists within each of us daily, though it is near impossible to measure in any rational way.
Icarus (2011) is a more hopeful painting. All we see is the feet and legs. Is he rising or falling?
Odysseus (2010) rests in silence on his side, his body wrapped in cloth like a human pupae sleeping in perpetuity. This figure is entombed by an absence of light, caught is space and time in perpetuity.
Orpheo (2011) presents a standing figure bisected by a sheet of pure light. We cannot see the face. The body is randomized, and could be any person from any culture. Whatever is to take place in the future, or whatever happened in a past, this figure has had no choice in deciding their fate. Fate exists as a dimension of physics, far stronger, more elusive, than any of these people could be… Light resonates ambiguously in and around these bodies, just as it does in Rembrandt’s Carcass of Beef (Flayed Ox) (1655) in the Louvre.
Armata’s paintings express universal and unspoken truths about the human condition.
Ludmila Armata’s Misfits
ART SOUTERRAIN Galerie d’Este 1329 Greene Ave., Westmount, QC 846-1515F. (514) 846-1196 Tel.: 514.846.1515 www.galeriedeste.com
June 16 – July 3rd, 2011